Well, as we look at this passage here in Hosea, again, Hosea, Chapter 10, these last few verses, verses 9 through 15. Hosea is ministering to the Nation of Israel after Israel has been split into, and so I'm going to give you a little bit of the timeline here to just kind of help set the context for what Hosea is dealing with, as he's ministering to the people of Israel. David and Solomon really brought the Kingdom of Israel to its height to its peak in their day around 1000 BC was kind of the the pinnacle and the peak of the Kingdom of Israel under their leadership, but after Solomon, the nation split in two. And Solomon. And his leader. Phase really turned away from the Lord and was not walking with the Lord and so the nation began began to decline even during Solomon's reign. And so he helped bring it to its pinnacle, but but then also started its descent in his pursuit of idolatry and disobeying God, and disregarding the warnings and things that God had said. And so it began this. Spiral that continued and then the nation after Solomon was split in two and you can go back into Second Kings and read through that history if you want to. But when the nation was split into the northern part of the Kingdom kept the name Israel the southern part of the Kingdom, took the name Judah, and so now you have. Israel and Judah, and as I mentioned in the minor prophets. You have a variety of different prophets speaking to the people of God in different seasons and also two different audiences. Some of the prophets are ministering to the nation of Judah. Some of the prophets are ministering to the nation of Israel, and Hosea is ministering to the nation of Israel. Now what's interesting about Hosea? And you can really kind of compare it to the prophet Jeremiah. We spent a lot of time of course in Jeremiah, because it is such a long book and Jeremiah ministered to the nation of Judah. Right until he was essentially the last prophet, the last opportunity for the nation to repent before they were conquered by Babylon. Well, in a similar way, Hosea served that same role to the Nation of Israel, he was that final word to the Nation of Israel, their last chance. Our last opportunity and he ministered right up until the nation of Assyria conquered the nation. Of Israel, and so up until that point as it's leading up to that God is calling them back, announcing judgment and giving them opportunity to repent. And so that's the context that Jose is in. He's ministering to a nation that has been in rebellion against God for hundreds of years. And and this is the nation that has. Not had revivals after the nation split, the Southern Kingdom had some revivals. They turned back to God a few times. The Northern Kingdom never did. They were. Rebellious against God from the beginning and it just continued to get worse and worse and worse and worse and worse, and so Hosea is ministering to this people that is deeply entrenched in sin. Their hearts are hard. They are really tuned out in regards to the things of God and refusing to hear from God, and so it's a very tough. Ministry and so he uses some very strong and clear language that is a little bit kind of shocking as you read through the book. It's like wow. Some of the things that the Lord caused Hosea to say, are, you know, really strong and piercing words. But some of the things that God called Hosea to do is even more shocking, and he in his marriage, and his raising of children, the Lord had some very clear instruction for him that would be hard for any of us to really fathom. Actually living out obedience to God. Yeah did but but it was that kind of radical obedience. Radical in clarity and the message and the announcement of judgment that the nation needed if they were going to have an opportunity to repent, and so that's Jose's ministry. A tough ministry. But at the same time he's ministering the love. Of God, and so I've titled the message Tonight God Mercy shines brightly in darkness. Here's Hosea announcing and declaring some really horrific things that are going to take place to the Nation of Israel. And and it's accurate. And it's, you know, the things that are they're going to experience if they don't repent. And yet, at the same time as he declares, the anger of the Lord and the wrath of the Lord, and the judgment that they deserve, you also get. Throughout Hosea, those pockets of mercy. Shining through those expressions of love and you can see just such a stark contrast. It's like, you know, setting something brilliant like a stone like a, you know, a diamond on a back. A black background. You know that that it just shines brightly in. In contrast to that, background in a similar way as you work your way through the Prophet Hosea, you you see the darkness and and that's the result of sin and iniquity, and the judgment is all deserved. And it's dark. It's so dark. But then you have verses like we'll get to in chapter 10 here in verse 12 that just shine and there's this amazing brightness of God's mercy that shines. Through and this is the way that God works and he wants to remind us this evening of his mercy that shines bright in darkness. It doesn't get diminished by darkness. His mercy shines even brighter in the midst of darkness and great wickedness and iniquity. The apostle Paul in Romans chapter 2. Talking about the judgment of God, he says, we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things wickedness. And do you think this oh man, you who judge those practicing such things and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance when it comes to judgment? Paul says, look, you need to be thinking about this and understand that that you can't count yourself as as escaping the judgment of God. If you're practicing such things, or if you're putting yourselves as a in a self-righteous way above those who practice those things. He says you're missing and forgetting this really important thing that it's God goodness and for barats and longsuffering. That that God extends toward you and it's it's the goodness of God that leads you to and gives you the opportunity to repent. And that's what we see here in Hosea Ministry to Israel. His mercy shines brightly, his goodness. Calls his people to repentance. Now we know the end of the story. The people of Israel did not repent, and so they suffered the judgment that God announced through Hosea, but it didn't have to be that way. They had the opportunity to receive the mercy of God and the invitation that God gives. It shines brightly in the midst of such. Great darkness, and so we're going to walk through these verses here. Hosea chapter 10 verses 9 through 15. Green and we're going to see four points. 4 rays of light. You might say in looking at God's mercy that shines brightly in darkness. Here's point. #1, looking at verse nine, God shows his mercy. And his patience. The first ray of light that we can consider here in verse nine is the patience that God demonstrates and how it shows us the mercy of God and verse nine it says, oh, Israel. You have sinned from the days of qibya. There they stood, the battling gebeya against the children of iniquity. It did not overtake them. Here we're looking at the patience of God because God is making reference to the days of Gibeon. Now Jose is ministering to the nation of Israel, right? At their end. And so his ministry is from about 760 BC to 720 BC. He ministers right? Up until that, that conquering of Israel by the nation of Assyria. Well, the days of Qibya were not during Jose's lifetime. God says you have sinned from the days of Gibeon, and so he's calling out something at a point in time. A reference to a time and and he's doing so through the prophet Hosea, who's ministering in the present in the early 1700s BC. And so when were the days of Gibeon? Well this. Days of Gibeon refers back to an event that's recorded in judges Chapter 19 through 21. The Book of Judges Records for us a time period that is. Let's call it. 600 years before the prophet Hosea. They're the time of judges. And of course we know the judges. It was all of these deliveries that God raised up to lead his people out of the oppression that they were in, but it was a time where everybody was doing what was right in their own eyes. And so the people would dive into wickedness and pursue wickedness, but then experience the judgment and consequences for sins, and they would repent and call out to God. And God would raise up a deliverer and then they would do well for a little bit while that judge was alive. And then when the judge. Passed on they would. Turn back to doing what was right in their own eyes. Pursuing wickedness again, and this was the pattern back in the time of judges and, and this was the time period in which these days of qibya occurred that God is referring to. This was, well, we don't have a specific date for it, but it's recorded in the the Book of Judges, and so again we can kind of estimate 600 years or so. Could have been even a couple 100 years longer than that or a little bit less than that, but 600 years is a good number for us to just kind of work with, and you can understand that God's calling back to you. Let's say 600 years earlier and saying ever since then. You have sinned from the DS of Gibeon. You've, you've been in pursuit of sin. This nation has been dabbling with entertaining and diving into sin for the past 600 years. Now the days of Gibeon doesn't just refer to the time period, but it also refers to the actual events and the events that are recorded there in judges 1920. 21 They're they're so hard to work through to read there. It's one of those chapters that once you get past it, you're like, OK, great. I don't have to read that again for another few years and I'm glad to be through it because it records for us this atrocious crime that takes place against a man and his concubine. And how she is abused to the point of death sexually and and then he cuts her up and sends her in pieces to all of the rest of the tribes of Israel and calls them. And they now attack the tribe of Benjamin as a result of the. This deed, because the tribe of Benjamin would not bring justice to the situation and and so there's this civil war. There's this battle. There's so much death and there's this atrocities that are hard even for us to read and yet are real expressions of the depravity of humanity that you know those. Kinds of things. Might be hard for us to read, but there are also. Happening every day. All around the world and so so it's the depravity of sin that we see in the great darkness that is there in judges. 19 and God says, ever since then. For the past 600 years. This kind of thing has been going on. Back in the days of Gibeon, this was just one tribe, the tribe of Benjamin, that this whole ordeal centered around. But the idea here is that now this has overtaken all of the nation of Israel, that it's not just one portion of the population, but all of the population are engaged in sin to this degree, and in this kind of way. And to me this demonstrates. The patience of God. The patience of God in waiting until this time. Opportunity waiting with calls to repentance. Waiting while sending prophets his patience with the people that are in full out rebellion against him. Is it's remarkable? It's astounding. How much God is able to endure? Part of today's reading in Chapter 9. The beginning part of it got refers to the Nation of Israel being involved in harlotry and adultery, and it references, you know, back to this picture that God often paints of. Him being married to his people and it demonstrates the the kind of relationship that he wants. The commitment of love that is intended that he has on his part for his people. But the people response to God is not like a marriage. It is more like adultery and harlotry, and that's part of the reason why God had Hosea lived the life that he lived, and calling him to marry a prostitute who would betray him and go back into prostitution. And God says, OK, now go buy her out of prostitution and bring her back. And again we kind of try to. Picture that in real life and it's just hard to fathom someone actually doing that but but this is something that God called Hosea to do because Hosea was called to demonstrate the patience of God and even when people betray you to that degree and hurt you to that. I agree, God says. I'm patient, I don't just cut them off and cut them out and give up and never return back to them. I I don't just give them no more opportunities. I don't just turn my back and never pay them attention again for 600 years. Has pursued, dabbled, entertained and gone into full out iniquity and rebellion against God. And the amazing thing is that God didn't judge them 590.
Nine years earlier, you.
Know that that it wasn't you know, immediately or instantly. They deserved it. And it wasn't OK. Well, I'll give you, you know 20 years or 30 years, maybe 50 years, right? But then it's over no 600 years later. God in his patience. Delays and delays and delays and and that's A bright, shining light of the mercy of God. Because he's always giving opportunity in his patients and so he's enduring. The suffering that he is inflicted with by our sinfulness. He's in during the suffering of his people. It hurts him to see his people suffer the consequences of their sin and he calls sin sin because it's so destructive to us, it destroys our life. But he doesn't just take us out, he doesn't just end the opportunities. In his mercy he shows great patience. The apostle Peter. Talking about the coming judgment of God upon this Earth, the Tribulation period that we've been talking about for a few weeks through the book of Daniel. Peter talking about that says the Lord is not slack concerning his promise as some count slackness. But is long. Suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. In that chapter, second Peter three Peter is talking about people who would scoff at the idea of the Lord returning again, saying, hey, you know people have been saying that for thousands of years. Everything just continues on like it has since the beginning is what the scoffers say. And Peter says those people are willfully forgetting. That God has dealt with sin before in the flood and bringing the judgment and Sodom and Gomorrah got God deals with sin. It's not that he's never going to deal with sin, but heals is also incredibly patient. And This is why because? He's not willing. That any should perish. It's not his desire. Or his plan for any to perish. He is longsuffering another word for patience. He suffers for a long time with people who sin against him and ignore him and rebel against him and work. You know, against him in his face or to his face. He's long-suffering with his people. Because he doesn't want anyone to perish. He is. And making sure that everyone has opportunity to come to repentance. God would be justified in just dealing with the people and bringing the judgment much, much sooner. But in his mercy he shows patience and gives more chance, more opportunity. For his people to turn back and repent, God shows mercy.
In his patience.
Moving on to verse 10 and 11, we get point #2 and that is that God shows. His mercy in his chastening. He shows mercy in his patience, delaying the judgment, delaying the consequences. The the full outpouring of wrath. But he also shows mercy by allowing some through and bringing chastening upon his people. In verse 10. He says, when it is my desire, I will chase in them. People shall be gathered against them when I bind them. For their two transgressions. Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to Thresh Green. But I harnessed her fair neck. I will make you from pull a plow. Judah shall plow. Jacob shall break his clods. Here God talks about the chastening. Of his people. Now what's interesting to think about. Is as he's talking about chastening. He's referring to the chastening that is to come. Which is the nation of Assyria completely conquering the people? Although God has done of course some chastening up to this point that the chastening that he's referring to now is what we might think of as the final judgment when the nation is completely wiped out by the the nation of Assyria, and the survivors are taken away captive and removed from the the land of Israel, but. But that's not the final judgment. That's just the chastening. God says when it is my desire, I will. Chase in them. It's the discipline of God that causes the nation of Assyria to conquer the nation of Israel and what they're about to experience in those battles in that war. And all. Of the tragedies that happen in the midst of war. That is the discipline of God. It's the chastening of God. Because in the. Chastening of God. It is a further demonstration of God's patience and a further call to repentance. It is an expression of love when God chastens his people when he allows them to experience. A portion of the consequences. A portion of the judgment that is deserved. It is an expression of his love. It is a wake up call for us. The author of Hebrews and Hebrews 12 talks about chastening. And he reminds us, if you experience chastening, it's because God is dealing with you as his children. Fathers discipline their children. Their children. But but if you don't experience chastening from God, the author, Hebrews goes on to say you're not his child. That's why he's not disciplining you. But when you are his child, you can expect to be disciplined. You can expect chastening. You can expect to experience a sampling of a taste of. The judgment and the consequences for sin being a child of God doesn't mean that we can get away with anything we want to. It means that God will deliberately make sure that we don't get away with things so that. We can be. A weekend to the sin that is going on, and the judgment that is being stored up in the behavior and the attitudes that we have. And so God says, when it is my desire, I will chase in them. Here God is saying it's my prerogative. I get to choose when. To administer this discipline. You know, like the old illustration, the mom says just wait till your dad gets home right? The discipline is being delayed, sometimes it doesn't happen right away, but the chastening will come when Dad gets home. God says when I want to. I will bring this chastening at the right time. Being patient. Delaying the consequences. Delaying the judgment that is deserved. But at the right time, it's appropriate time. When I choose, I'm going to bring. This chastening verse, 10 he says, people shall be gathered against them when I bind them for their two transgressions. Again, the nation of Assyria coming to conquer the nation of Israel is the chastening. Of the Lord. It's not the final judgment. It is. God disciplining his children because of his love for them. It's God showing mercy. Allowing them to experience the very. Painful reminder. Of how bad sin is? He goes on to help illustrate this point in verse 11. Saying Ephrem is a trained heifer. Now Ephraim is a another way of referring to the Nation of Israel. It's one of the tribes of Israel, but it was the largest of the tribes, and so it's often used to refer to the nation, and so the nation of Israel, he says, is a trained heifer that loves to Thresh Green. And so this picture here we, of course, may not immediately recognize and relate to you, but I'll try to paint the picture as well as I can. The idea here is that Ephraim was living in luxury. Threshing grain and the idea of threshing grain was just. Walking around on. Top of grain. Now you could imagine walking around on. Top of grain is. Not super painful. It's not like walking around on rocks, right? It is. A bunch of green. And if you're a heifer, all you gotta do is this. Walk around and one. Of the benefits. Of being a heifer that Thresh is green is, you know if you are walking around on the grain and you look and you say ooh, that's a delicious piece of green I see right there. Well, you're allowed to just bend over and take a bite of that and enjoy a nice healthy. Portion of the grain that you're threshing. So you walk around, you, eat some, you walk around, you eat some, you walk around, you eat some you got this kind of soft, cushy green under you and and you're just, you know. Enjoying life, having a good time. You're working, but the work is easy and you get to eat as much as you want. It's like you know. If your job was to clear the. Table at all you can. Eat buffet and so you just kind of got to sit there and they just brought you another plate and said alright, thank you. I think I'll have some of that.
Later on, OK, yeah, sure I'll have.
Some of that. And if you. Could just live at a Brazilian BBQ like wouldn't that be the amazing life? That's kind of the idea here. This this trained heifer that loves to Thresh Green. I love this, it's great I just get to walk around and. Eat when I want to and. It's not a bad life. But then God says, I harnessed her fair neck. And now God is talking about putting a yoke. And this heifer that is used to kind of an easy life of just having everything provided for him and just hanging out there. But now here comes the yoke. And he says I'm going to. Make ephriam pull a plow. So picture the kind of work difference it is to walk around on top of grain and then eat whenever you want to versus being harnessed to a device that digs into the soil and and so now the farmer is leading you, perhaps with a goad perhaps. With a whip you know, like hey, let's go and now you have to dig in and pull this. Tool this instrument that has a blade to to dig into the ground and now it's it's a heavy load you're pulling because you have to pull the farmer who's standing on it and and pull this tool into the ground. If any of you had opportunity to help Rome and try to soften up the soil in the playground area, you know maybe you have a little bit of a. A good picture of what what this was like that the heifer goes from this nice life. Cushy life of just walking around on top and grade and eating, when when she wants you to now out in the field having to do this hard strenuous labor. God says that is the picture of what's about to happen when I discipline my children. I've been going easy on them. The judgment withholding the consequences. So now I'm going to teach them a lesson. I'm going to put them out in the field. Cause them to plow. Now it's an. Illustration of course, God wasn't talking about putting, you know them to work out in the field digging ditches. That might have been what some? Have ended up doing. They were taken into captivity into slavery. Forced servitude, they they had a lot of freedom before they were able to just enjoy the blessings of God. Of course they were working, but compared to what they were about to go through, it was like being a heifer that just loves to thresh the grain and has a cushy life. Going out into the field to.
Pull the plow through the field.
Pastor Warren Wisby says Israel solid days were over and she would feel the Assyrian yoke. You got to have the nice life and you just eat when you want to, but now you're going to feel the yoke of discipline of chastening. Easy days are over. God shows his mercy though. In that chastening. There is that serious call to wake up again. God would have been justified if Assyria conquering Israel was the final straw. The final judgment, and that was it, and there was no more after that. But that's the discipline. Which means that God still working. On behalf of his people and calling his people back to reconcile with him, even in the midst of the Assyrian army conquering the nation there, there was an abundance of mercy that God is showing a brilliant ray of light shining through, even in the chastening that God brings.
Upon the people of Israel.
The Lord Jesus, in writing to the Church of Laodicea in Revelation Chapter 3. Says something similar to them. He says as many as I love I rebuke and chasten, therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come to him and dine with him, and he with me the Lord Jesus here is writing to the church. Search he's writing to a people who have known him, but. Are experiencing or about to experience rebuke and chastening because they've. Well, they've wandered away from him. And so the expectation of the Lord is listen. This is normal. This is kind of a, uh, a normal experience. Not that it has to be part of everybody's life, but this is a part. This is something that even believers in Jesus will experience a bit of wandering from the Lord. And so there is the need for the Lord to rebuke and chasten and and the best thing to do. When you experience that is, recognize. As many as I love. I rebuke and chase it. This this hardship this suffering this consequence? This judgment that I'm experiencing is an expression of. God's love. And So what I need to do is be zealous. That is, respond fervently with repentance. And and notice what Jesus. Is saying like I'm right here but just. Open the door. I'm knocking, I'm just I'm right here. Be zealous and repent I'm right here when you're ready. Let's reconcile let's restore the relationship. Let this chastening do what it's designed to do and drive you back. To the Lord. Back to right fellowship with God. God shows mercy in his chastening because of his great love. Because he's earnestly desiring. For the issue to be resolved. And for fellowship to be restored. Well, point #3 as we go on into verse 12 God shows mercy in his invitations to repent. Verse 12 says, sow for yourselves righteousness. Reap in mercy. Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord till he comes and rains.
This on you.
Here God gives his people an invitation in the midst of this announcement of judgment and and again as you work your way through Hosea. I mean, there's chapters of just wow, the judgment that God said is coming and the atrocities which the people are committing. There's just darkness and darkness. And darkness and darkness. And then boom, here is this bright light. Where God says so for yourselves righteousness. And reap in mercy. It's time to seek the Lord. There is opportunity. There is invitation. God is saying, please come and seek the Lord. So for yourselves righteousness, here's what God is saying to his people here. Start doing what is right. You've done all of this wickedness. Again, referring back to Hosea, Chapter 9, you've committed adultery spiritually. You've you've been involved in harlotry. It's been, you know, this horrific way that you've treated the Lord. And what God says here is not go sit yourself in the corner on time out, you know. Go flog yourself 100 times. Go do this strenuous thing now what he says is start doing what is right. So for yourselves righteousness start to plant seeds of righteousness in your life. This is repentance. It's to stop the wickedness and to start doing righteousness to replace that behavior of wickedness that is wrong. To replace that with what is right and righteousness in your life, start doing what is right. It's a very practical thing. God is calling them to you. Start sowing righteousness. The emphasis here is on doing. Not not thinking. Not again, punishing yourself or anything like that, but but doing righteousness. It's in this book, Hosea chapter six, that we find that saying that we often hear and are reminded of Jesus, makes reference to it. Where God says I desire mercy and not sacrifice and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings, it's Hosea Chapter 6, verse 6. Where God is saying what I want you to do is to start doing what is right. I desire mercy. You show mercy, not sacrifice. What I'm not asking for is for you to come and try to make up for your sinfulness with some huge gesture with some sacrifice. So look this. Costs me greatly, but here it is. I give it to the Lord and that makes up for my wickedness, my sinfulness. God says no, no. Start doing what is right. And to a people that is being harsh and unjust to people, showing mercy is the repentance because they're not being merciful. In fact, they're being cruel towards other people and and so showing mercy is what God wants. Not their sacrifice, don't. Continue to be cruel and and harsh to people and then just try to come and you know, sing a song really nicely or give some extra money in the offering or do some extra labor or work for the Lord. Or you know help somebody around you and say OK. You know I was cruel, but you know I made-up. For it now God is. Saying start doing what is right. The knowledge of God. He says, I want that more than burnt offerings stop trying to offer some kind of sacrifice and start to get to know me. Start to pursue relationship with me. Start to develop. And grow in your relationship with God. That's what you need to do. So for yourselves righteousness. And then what you will reap. Is mercy. Mercy, the withholding of judgment that is deserved. God uses this picture of sowing, planting seeds, and then what grows and the fruit that happens out of that is mercy, too, to experience mercy from God. God says start doing what is right. I want you not to try to punish yourself. I don't want you. To put yourself on time out. I don't want you to run away. I want you to turn around and make some real life impacting decisions and changes in your life so that you start doing what is right. He goes on in verse 12 to say, break up your fallow ground. There's another illustration here, this fallow ground. Fallow ground I. This is a really beautiful picture and I I think it's one worth meditating on and so you might want to make a note of that. Maybe remind yourself a couple of times to to think about this idea of meditating on this idea. Of fallow ground. Fallow ground again. It's an agricultural term. That was what they were familiar with and used to in the land of Israel. Fallow ground is land that has been idle. It is normally used for farming and so it's land that is normally ploughed. It's land that is normally planted corn or grain, or you know whatever is is planted in there and then harvest it and and so it's watered and and worked. But but then if that land. Is left alone. For uh, year two years. Five years, 10 years, that that land becomes fallow ground, which means that land becomes hard. The topsoil, because it's not continually being worked and turned over Caesar season after season because it's it's not being. Maintained it becomes hard. But it doesn't mean it's just dead. Usually that also means it's full of weeds, because now the weeds aren't being pulled there. There's not that work being done on it, and so so fallow ground is a land that was once productive and fruitful and useful, and and has just now been. Staying empty and idle has become hard and full. Of wheats full of useless. Growth and vegetation that is not helpful. And so God says. Israel this is what you're like. You're like fallow ground. Your life you used to be fruitful and productive. You used to have you know this softness to your heart and you in your relationship with me were producing fruit. There was growth. There was development and there was there was a harvest that could take place. There was good things happening. Thing but but you haven't been fruitful for a long time. And you've turned from that fruitful field into fallow ground, and so it's time to break up that fallow ground. Time to turn over that soil again and restart this process so that you can become fruitful. Once again, there's there's things that have been just laying dormant in your life spiritually. Your relationship with God has been. Just growing dim and you've been becoming hard and there's these weeds that have grown up in your life. Restricting even growth, if there was to happen, no, there needs to be this this real change? This this, now plowing this breaking up of the fallow ground so that you can get rid of those weeds and turn over the soil to break up those hard clods of dirt and and to to make it soft again. And enable to receive the seed and receive. The water and. Produce fruits and grow as it's intended to. It's a really beautiful picture, an amazing picture, but that's one dimension of it. There's another dimension of this to consider as well. Pastor Thomas Constable puts it this way. Fallow ground, he says, is a figure. For confessing sins and exposing them to God. When they have remained unconfessed under the surface of life.
For a long time.
I think you can look at fallow ground as. A re beginning of reinstituting of spiritual disciplines of walking with the Lord. And you know, getting back to relationship with the Lord. But but there's also this picture here that that there is this sin that is under the surface. That is not brought forth and and it brings to my mind, at the example of David after he committed the sin with Bathsheba and Uriah. That that he left it covered. He thought it was covered. He thought, you know, it was dealt with. And so he didn't confess. Until there was this confrontation and the Lord brought Nathan the Prophet to bring a face to face with it. And it was at that point that there was a breaking up of the fallow ground, that the sin was brought to the surface, and sometimes as we deal with sin in our lives. Our attempt to deal with it is. To try to lead OK, I think I can. I think it's covered OK.
Yeah, seems like everything is OK like nobody really say anything about it. Lloyd doesn't really seem to be yelling at me about it. OK, I think it's covered. OK good. I don't have to deal with that.
And what the Lord might be saying is break up your fallow ground and bring that to the surface. Confess it before the Lord. It might have been under the surface for a long time. We know with David and his situation it was, you know, probably about a year, maybe a little bit less, a little bit more. We don't know exactly, but but there was this good. Amount of time where this was just hidden, covered up.
In his life. And so the Lord.
Called him to break up the fallow ground. To bring that to the surface and confess it, and you can read about David's confession. Confession in his experience in Psalm 51. I think it's some 34 as well that that change that happened as he was trying to leave it covered and so he felt the hardness of the soil and the the weeds pulling in and and he was miserable and not fruitful. But then as he brought this into the surface and confessed it before they would, and dealt with it before the Lord, then there was this reunion. There was this fellowship. There was this life that was brought into his heart once again. Break up your fallow ground. It's time to confess those things. It's time to re Institute those spiritual disciplines into to walk with the Lord in the way that you used to. Again, there used to be fruitfulness in this area. There used to be this field that was full of crop. It was full of life. But now it's been laying dormant, it's fallow ground. It needs to be broken up since needs to be. Confessed also consider this word from Pastor David Guzik. He says since fallow ground is hard, it probably doesn't want to be broken up. It is hard and compact, and the blade of the plow hurts as it cuts through. If the fallow ground could talk, it would probably cry out when it is plowed. Yet it is useless. As ground, as long as it is fallow. If the hard, previously fruitful, but now fallow field could speak. He would say no. That hurts to breakthrough that hard. Crust on the surface now. Our sinful nature. Knows that cry very well. And this is the enemy of. Us breaking up the fallow ground. Because there's part of us that doesn't want to do that, that doesn't want to face the pain that doesn't want to deal with the sin that doesn't want to be disciplined in life and work at a relationship with the Lord and work in walking in righteousness and obedience. Sowing seeds of righteousness. Or there is a part of us, our flesh, our sinful nature. That resist that. And when we've allowed that to dominate in our lives, it is. Internally it is painful. For us to turn that fallow soil over. Repentance is painful to the flesh. That's why Jesus said you have to take up your cross, deny yourself die to yourself and follow me because that's what it feels like. That that is what your flesh will be screaming at you. You're killing me. This hurts. I can't go through this it's too hard, it's too painful it's too difficult. But the Lord says, break up your fallow ground. Sow seeds of righteousness. For it is time to seek the Lord. And then he goes on to say till he comes, and rains righteousness on you, the promise of God is if you draw near to me I will draw near to you. You, and when you sow seeds of righteousness and break up your fallow ground and seek the Lord, the Lord is going to come and reign. Righteousness on you. There's going to be a refreshing, although it might be painful now to deal with those things and to address those things and to break up that soil, there is going to be a rainy season ahead. That is going to bring rains of mercy and righteousness upon you, and you will be refreshed and renewed and there will be a production of life that develops. This is God's invitation to repent so merciful in giving this people that has been hard and hard and hard, and resisting God and refusing to repent from previous invitations. But here is one more really kind of a you can consider it a final invitation before this discipline comes with the Kingdom. Of this area and yet once more God shows mercy by saying it's time to seek the Lord, you still have a chance. You still have an opportunity here. Jesus writing to the Church of Ephesus and Revelation, Chapter 2. It says remember therefore from where you have fallen, repent and do the 1st works or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place unless you repent. Jesus writing to the church in Ephesus could have been writing to the Nation of Israel. You know, like the words, it's the same message. Remember from where you have fallen, there used to be a fruitful field, but but now it has been lead. Idol has become a fallow field, fallow ground and you need to repent and go back and do the 1st works and break up that soil and start to invest in your relationship with the Lord again and start to work. The soil that you would receive the word of God that it would be implanted deep within and that it would produce much fruit in your life. It's time to seek the Lord. And there's a warning Jesus gives if you don't. There the discipline will come. But, but there's this opportunity now. This invitation to repent. To not experience the full discipline and consequences to not experience the full judgment that is deserved. But to begin now? That change that turn. To receive the reins from the Lord, it's time to seek the Lord. Right now, but you know, not just for a moment and that's part of you know what we do. Sometimes we see the threat of discipline coming. Oh no, there's discipline. I'm about to get caught. There's gonna be some trouble coming this is gonna hurt. OK, Lord, please I promise I'm never gonna do this again I'm gonna start walking with you right I'm Gonna do with what takes and and then. The Lord grants us.
A little bit of relief and goes.
I almost got that way that was about to hit me pretty hard, but woo I skipped it. OK, good, now I can go back to my life and not pursue God and not fulfill all the promises I made to God right now. Trying to get out of this discipline. It's time to seek the Lord, not just for right this moment until he comes and rains righteousness on you that is start seeking the Lord and don't be satisfied with just a little bit of relief. Keep seeking the. Lord, until the floods come, the floods of God's presence? The floods of gods work. The floods of God's righteousness. The flood of gods peace. The floods of God's spirit in your life. It's time to seek the Lord and till he comes and rains his righteousness upon you. Keep seeking the Lord until the transformation is complete. The nation of Judah. We saw some partial revivals that would happen like under King Hezekiah under King Josiah. But but they were on the surface, they weren't full revivals, and that's why the nation of Judah also was disciplined by being conquered by the nation of Babylon. There was not a revival in the seeking of the Lord until the transformation was complete. There was just a temporary revival, a little bit of transformation in the life, like OK, we just kind of rearrange some things over good. But the Lord is saying, don't be satisfied with a partial transformation, partial revival. It's time to seek the Lord until the rains come until the flood comes. I think we all know what it's like to experience a partial revival. Some people call them New Year's resolutions, right? So I'm going to change my life for a couple days and then never mind. That was too hard. I'm going to go. Back to how I was. No, don't do that. Break up the fallow ground. And seek the Lord and don't stop seeking the Lord. Until he comes. Till his presence is upon you, and he rains down his righteousness upon you. Don't come until he finish it or don't stop until he finishes the work.
That he's begun in you.
Well, finally point #4. Looking at verses 13 through 15, God even shows mercy in his judgment. Verse 13 you have plowed wickedness. You have reaped iniquity, you have eaten the fruit of lies, because you trust it in your own way, and the multitude of your mighty men therefore tumults shall arise among your people, and all your fortresses. Shall be plundered as schaumann plundered, Beth Marvel, and the day of battle. Uh, mother dashed in pieces upon her children. Thus it shall be done to you. Oh Bethel, because of your great wickedness. At dawn, the King of Israel shall be cut off entirely. God gives the invitation. He also knows the invitation will not be received, and so he warns again. If you don't turn. If you don't break up the fallow ground. Here's what's going to happen. Because you've plowed wickedness, you're going to reap iniquity. God is saying this is a law of the Lord. This is always going to be the case. You reap what you sew, Paul says in Galatians chapter 6. Don't be deceived. You're going to be tempted to be deceived about this and think, wow, I got away with something I didn't reap. What I sowed, God said. Paul says, don't be deceived. Don't let your mind in your heart and your sinfulness your sinful flesh trick you into thinking that you can have hard soil. Rebellious heart. Sinfulness that's ongoing. I think. OK, God must be OK with it. God approves it. God allows it. He understands. I'm an exception. Don't be deceived. God is not mocked. Whatever a man sows, he will reap. If he shows in the flesh. From the flesh or reap corruption if he shows to the spirit from the spirit, he'll reap everlasting life. This is the law of God. You've plowed wickedness. And so you've reaped iniquity. You've eaten the fruit of lies, he goes. On to say because you. Trust it in your own way. In the multitude of your mighty men, instead of trusting in the Lord and letting God's word override what you think and how you feel and what you want to do, you've trusted in your own thoughts, your own ways, your own plans, your own desires, your own goals. You've trusted in yourself, pursued your own pleasures desired. What you wanted? And he thought, hey, I'm strong enough, the multitude of my mighty men, the multitude of my bank accounts, and the multitude of my strength and energy and the multitude of my efforts, I'm I'm able to handle this situation, and I'm able to indulge in these things. I'm able to do it. God says, no, therefore tumult shall rise among your people. And he describes. The attack that will come from the. Nation of Assyria. Verse 15 he says, because of your great wickedness. The King of Israel shall be cut off utterly. Discipline is administered in God's timing. Judgment is metered out. According to God's understanding and God's wisdom. Again, it's not the final judgment. It's not that they have no opportunity because as you continue reading in Hosea, you see those invitations and and opportunities to repent. In Hosea, Chapter 14, he talks about the time after they've been conquered by Assyria and spread out taken captive all. Throughout the world. And still God says in. Hosea 414 four I will heal their backsliding. I will love them freely for my anger is turned away from him. It's not the end. Even at the end that that there's still this opportunity. God is saying I'm going to love them and bring them back, and there's going to be a restoration. There's going to be a work that. I'm going to do. Even in my judgment, I'm not going to administer the final judgment just yet. It's going to be a discipline. It's going to be a chastening. It's going to be quite severe. And the atrocities of war are going to take place. But still even then.
It's not the end.
My people have a chance to turn back.
And come to me.
God even shows mercy in his judgment, it's. A brilliant light. Amongst the darkness of sin and wickedness and rebellion against God, and so, God's mercy shines brightly in darkness. Shines through his patience through his chastening there his invitations to repent and even in his judgment his mercy shines. Now with all that in mind. I want to take this into one last thought. And that is the thought that is kind of sparked by Matthew 18. The parable that Jesus tells of a servant who has forgiven a great debt. By his master. Incredible debt. He could have never paid back. He walks out from having been forgiven this debt, and he sees another servant who owes him just a little tiny sum and. He begins to abuse that servant and say, pay me back. What you owe. The master hears about that calls that servant back in and says I forgave you this great debt. Shouldn't you have had compassion? On that servant, like I had compassion on you. You think about the light the the bright shining of God's mercy that comes through darkness, and you understand that that God has been patient with you and he has been disciplining you when you needed it. And he's been giving you opportunities and invitations for a pet. And even when he's had to bring the discipline in the judgment, he's he's withheld. Some you haven't received the full amount you deserve, he's he's shown mercy and love every step. Of the way. And I think it would be appropriate. For you to take some time to consider. As Jesus declared himself to be the. Light of the world. Then he also looked at his disciples and says you.
Are the light of the world.
To take and receive the mercy that God has shown to us. And perhaps the Lord wants us to then. Shine that light. To some people around us. When Jesus washed the disciples feet says, do you understand what I've done? You call me teacher and Lord, and you see that right? That's what I am. And so if I have done. This for you you ought to do this. For one another. In Matthew 6 and the Lord's Prayer. As he's teaching us to pray, he says. If you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your father forgive your trespasses. That there is this. Correspondence to the way that God works towards us and what we receive from the Lord, and it's also what he calls us to then turn around and pass along to those around us. And so rephrasing these points a little bit. Let God's mercy shine brightly in darkness. And I would encourage you to consider. Perhaps you need to show God's mercy with your patients to some people around you and let it be a bright shining amongst the darkness of betrayal and difficulty and rebellion and hardship and hurt. And all of this, but. Maybe with great patience you can shine the light of God's mercy. Into the lives of the people around you. And maybe God does have you in a place where there is some chastening that is due and he would have you administer that. And there needs to be a very measured amount in the chastening in the discipline that is going on, that that that you're doing it on purpose deliberately, to show mercy, to make sure that the light of God's love and mercy. Is shining through. And maybe there needs to be from you invitations to reconcile. And you wouldn't think. How could I ever reconcile?
With that person.
No way would I ever give that opportunity. Absolutely not, but. But this is what God does to us. This is how God relates to us, and his mercy shines brightly. And perhaps you need to let God's mercy shine brightly through you into the darkness of that situation. And even when there's judgment. Even when.
There is consequences.
And people are suffering for the result of their choices and the decisions.
That they've made.
There's still opportunity to show God's mercy. To be a friend, to demonstrate love to shine brightly.
The character and nature of God.
To those around us. There's opportunity for us. To receive from God this mercy. And there's opportunity for us to show God's mercy. To the world around us. But I pray that you would help us. Where we need to receive your mercy. And act upon your word and break up the fallow ground, I pray. Lord, that you would help us to be zealous and to repent. Mode to turn back to you and to begin to do the. Things that you've called us to. Not partially, not temporarily, but fully and completely until you reign down righteousness upon us until the transformation that you've begun in US is complete or it help us to seek you first to put you first. To pursue you with all of our hearts. And God, I pray in the midst of that journey in the midst of us, turning around and the midst of us walking with you, Lord, there is going to be much need and opportunity for us to demonstrate. The same mercy that you've shown us to people around us. But give us your eyes and your heart. Help us Lord. To have the boldness, the strength, the courage. To do like you do. To be merciful and loving. Patient and gracious with people around this. And we pray that you would use us. To be a bright shining light. For you. But that people might see you. In the way that we relate to them. In the midst of darkness. Your love shine forth. We pray this in Jesus name.